Full text of the opening address of SportAccord President Marius L. Vizer at the SportAccord Convention

“The International Sport Movement Needs Real Reforms”

Following is the full text of the opening address of SportAccord President Marius L. Vizer at the SportAccord Convention World Sport and Business Summit

(Provided by SportAccord)

The power of sport are the International Federations.

The engine of sport are the National Federations with Ministries of Sport, the NOCs and the athletes.

Sport today is not only a mechanism meant to organise big events and create champions, it is also an important education factor for the young generations, a discipline and health activator. Moreover, it is the key element of progress for the youth of the world, in the spirit of solidarity, friendship and peace.

SportAccord is the International Federations. My only intention is to protect the interests of the International Federations and to have a proper working relationship while providing them with projects and platforms in order to increase their visibility, exposure, participation and finance. Many projects are under way, including multi-sport games, integrity and doping-free, media house, SportAccord Academy and many more which you will learn about later today. We enjoy working in collaboration with ASOIF, AIOWF, ARISF, AIMS in order to add value.

After becoming SportAccord President, I always tried to develop a constructive collaboration with the IOC and with President Bach. A collaboration based on respect towards the Olympic Movement, its members and the values in which I believe. Unfortunately, it never became reality. I made a number of proposals in favor and for the benefit of IFs and SportAccord but we have never received a positive reaction. Mr. President, stop blocking the SportAccord strategy in its mission to identify and organize conventions and multi-sport games. Do not try to create a theory around which sports are and are not eligible for multi-sport games. Do not try to impose upon the organizers of SportAccord events guidelines on how to distribute funds generated and earned by ourselves. Do not interfere in the autonomy of the sport organizations.

The main joint platform of the IFs is SportAccord. It is a unique platform that unites all International Federations. The Olympic bid cities are blocked from making presentations or exhibiting their candidatures at SportAccord Convention.

The voting for potential host cities of the Olympic Games is compromised. Key stakeholders are excluded from making informed decisions when selecting Olympic host cities: the bid cities cannot present their candidatures at SportAccord Convention to all stakeholders, IOC members cannot visit bid cities and during the IOC Session, when the vote takes place, IF presidents – who are organizers of the Olympic Games, are obliged to leave the room.

The Agenda 2020 was promoted as a platform, which would bring reforms to the world of sport and benefits for all stakeholders. However, the interests of the International Federations were not properly addressed. The Agenda 2020 hardly brings any real benefit to sport, to IFs, or athletes. It did not bring about more clear criteria, rules and principles. “You, all present, are the main constituents of the Olympic Movement”. Recommendation 9 and 10 of Agenda 2020 lead to a destabilizing of the Olympic sports. We must protect the Olympic sports and disciplines currently in the Olympic programme and at the same time we must encourage and support the new sports and disciplines who want to join.  We are a united world sports family of Olympic and non-Olympic sports and we must act accordingly.

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SportAccord Chief Marius Vizer makes opening remarks at SportAccord General Asssembly in Sochi, April 20, 2015 (SportAccord Photo)
SportAccord Chief Marius Vizer makes opening remarks at SportAccord General Asssembly in Sochi, April 20, 2015 (SportAccord Photo)

Recommendation 19, the launch of an Olympic channel was very surprising. The IOC Members voted in December 2014, in the IOC Session, unilaterally, without a clear business plan, a commercialization plan and project, to reduce the dividends to International Federations in order to establish the Olympic channel. Leaving from the premise that the Olympic Movement has the assets, any business project in the world needs a business plan, investors, professional partners, breakeven points, strategy, consultation with stakeholders – International Federations and to generate a benefit for all stakeholders. Only after the decision it appears that a plan is in process. At the same time, the cost of more than 450 million dollars to establish a digital channel seems exaggerated. Do consult us as stakeholders of the Olympic Movement regarding all the proposals, contracts and partnerships that are being signed and make them transparent!

Sport is one of the highest values of humanity. The supreme value of sport is the education, the spirit and the discipline it confers to society. The International Federations are working full-time to develop and promote their sports. Together with their national federations, they are the ones which have the assets of the sports, from childhood to elite performance. They are the ones organizing competitions in their sports from single sport events to the biggest multi-sports events.

It is required that the International Federations are respected and appreciated because they are the foundation and pillars of the sport. Their unity and solidarity give consistency to the world sport movement.

The sport ministries have an important role in enabling, financing and supporting the internal and external program of activities of the national federations, as well as in organizing sports events, together with them, under the guidance of their International Federations. Their direct contribution, knowledge and implication in sport is highly appreciated by SportAccord.

According to the Olympic Charter, the total number of IOC Members may not exceed 115, out of which only 45 are the ones directly involved in sport: 15 representatives of the IFs, 15 of the NOCs, 15 of the athletes. This minority is the real royalty of the sport. In spite of this, during any vote, they can never determine change. In order to protect the real interests of sport, the majority of votes should belong to people in functions or offices related directly to sport.

As long as country leaders can present bids, Olympic Family leaders can hold governmental roles, why not also include Ministries of Sport in the decision process? Any modern organization, in order to be dynamic, responsive and evolving, should have positions for fixed durations while their members’ contribution is active and truly adding benefit.

International Federation Presidents who are active in their roles, trusted and elected by their respective sports should not be withdrawn due to age from the IOC.

The highest expression of sport at the level of spirit and competition is Olympism and the Olympic Games. This is a certainty that we are all convinced of. Discussing and debating their “uniqueness” is irrelevant . Just like President Bach was stating at the IF Forum in November 2014 – that “no organization or person can have a monopoly over sport” (and he was right), I consider that all the reforms must be implemented urgently in the IOC and I mean real reforms, that must serve and reflect the real interests of sport. History demonstrated that all the empires who reached the highest peaks of development never reformed on time and they all headed for destruction.

The Olympic Games inspire humanity, motivate athletes, generate hope and financial revenues. This must be protected, as it is a brand produced by the IFs, successfully packaged and commercialized by the IOC, to be then consumed with savour by the international community. On the other hand, the IOC system is expired, outdated, wrong, unfair and not at all transparent. The Olympic Games belong to all of us and we need real reforms.

In order to protect the integrity, transparency and fairness of the arbitration process, the Court of Arbitration in Sport must be independent.

In over 100 countries of the world, sport is in misery: athletes are lacking the necessary basic elements – food, medication, equipment, preparation facilities and possibility to participate to competitions. One of the great questions of sport today is how much should we continue to invest in buildings and infrastructure and how much in people?! Furthermore: why invest hundreds of millions of dollars in opening and closing ceremonies, while millions of athletes live in hunger and they don’t stand a chance in sport due to the lack of proper conditions? If indeed the “IOC distributes 3.25 million dollars a day, every day of the year, for the development of sport worldwide”, why do millions of athletes suffer and cannot enjoy or reach performances in sport? Together, SportAccord and IOC must find a solution to compensate national federations and athletes from their events. Today, the money invested in sport never reaches the athletes and their families. SportAccord and the International Federations are already providing prize money to their athletes in competitions, in an effort to compensate for this.

We appreciate the transparency of the IOC in making public some of their salaries and compensations, but it would be much appreciated to publish as well the payment list of all employees and consultants.

SportAccord is and shall always be supportive of its members, as well as all the international sports organizations, ready anytime to start a collaboration with any partner interested, according to the principles of mutual respect, value, dialogue and common solutions in the interest of sport and the benefit of society.

President Nelson Mandela said “Sport has the power to change the world”. I believe that “We have the power to change the sport”.

Fine primo tempo.

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